We just completed our 27 th Annual Scientific Sessions in Seattle, and I didn’t get much sleep. Also, I was drinking a lot of Starbucks coffee. Was that because of the change in the time zone from Cleveland or because I was very busy? It was both. What a fabulous meeting it was! As I was boarding the plane home, Anna, a sonographer from Cleveland, wished me congratulations for becoming the new president of the society and told me that she loved the meeting and venue. She enjoyed it so much that she had trouble deciding between which strain and cardio-oncology sessions to attend. Let me recap how a meeting like this happens, some of the highlights, and what it means for the ASE.
The meeting does not happen overnight. It starts years in advance in selecting the host city as well as the program chair and co-chair. This year’s chairs, Rick Grimm and Debbie Agler, happened to be from Cleveland Clinic, and they did an outstanding job. The whole program committee met in August 2015 and essentially planned the meeting with proposed sessions including multiple symposia. There were 7 different tracks that included case-based learning, imaging essentials, perioperative, symposia, pediatric/congenital, research, and vascular sessions during the meeting. During the year, the planning sessions materialized and invitations for faculty went out in January 2016. After a lot of hard work and countless conference calls and emails later, the resulting Scientific Sessions went extremely well in Seattle from June 10-14, 2016.
What were the highlights of the meeting for me? Between my busy schedule of meetings, I wandered into a strain symposia. First of all, I could hardly get into the room, and it was standing room only with lectures on the use of strain clinically to its limitations. Susan Wiegers, the ASE president, gave a great “state of the art” ASE presentation. Neil Weissman, the past president, gave a spectacular “TED”-like talk during the business meeting on disruptive forces and imaging. He reminded us that ASE does not want to end up as disappearing, obsolete companies like Kodak or Blockbuster. ASE has to be forward thinking and position itself “where the puck is going to be and not where it has been” (Wayne Gretzky quote). In my new president welcome speech, I talked about my planned initiatives for the upcoming year and emphasized expanding the structural disease space, broadening our alliance partners, getting ready for MACRA, MIPPS, and APS, encouraging innovation, as well as developing a new echo registry and new governance structure with a smaller board and active communication.
The young investigator presentations were fascinating with presentations on 3D and functional tricuspid regurgitation, ventricular stiffness in children, transthyretin amyloid in aortic stenosis, strain and cluster analysis in aortic stenosis. This was followed by a cutting-edge Feigenbaum lecture on translation research and muscle mechanics by Ted Abraham. There were also the great sonographer investigator award presentations. I was enthralled with the Kalmanson lecture by Peter Burns, the hands-on learning lab demonstrations, the poster sessions, the debates, as well as the early morning case-based presentations. There were exciting live demonstrations from the hybrid OR involving mitral clips, mitral valve in ring implantation of a transcatheter Sapien S3 valve and followed by insertion of a Melody valve within the Sapien valve and expert commentary by the faculty. I was involved in a well-attended session on “Dermatology of the Heart” which was chaired by the pericardial masters, Brian Hoit and Jae Oh. Who knew that we would have a dermatology session about pericarditis? The most fascinating session of the meeting was the shark-tank like presentations of the Echovation competition which focused on the next big thing in Workflow. There were 3 presentations by ASE members and industry on telemedicine with robots, new tracking of the LV with contrast, and Doppler flow analysis in aortic stenosis. The last entry took first prize and a $3000 check. Not too shabby!! I cannot wait for next year’s Echovation competition which will focus on “Streamlining Diagnostics to Augment Medical Decision Making.”
The gala at the Grand Hyatt was well attended and raised over $70,000 which is all going to the foundation for worthy causes like research and young investigator support. The theme was the roaring 20’s, and this was a lot fun. Key awards included the lifetime achievement (Martin St. John Sutton), meritorious service (David Wiener), teaching (Sunil Mankad), teaching in pediatrics (Lloyd Tani), sonographer teacher (Maryellen Orsinelli), perioperative echo (Stanton Shernan), international (Ricardo Ronderos), and Honorary FASE (Pham Gia Khai). The last evening at the EMP was magical with the unique venue and entertainment from an electric violinist on stage and then organizing a rock and roll band and singers from Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland Rockers) singing “Twist and Shout” (see photo). It also happened to be my 34th wedding anniversary. Just where you want to be! To add to the magical evening, the Cleveland Cavaliers won their NBA Playoff game.
At the end of the meeting, the outgoing and incoming program committees met to discuss how the meeting went and plans for next year. Next year’s meeting will be headed up by program chair, Geoff Rose and co-chair, Elizabeth Mcllwain.
Even though I was “sleepless in Seattle,” on coffee, this was really the best that ASE has to offer. There were close to 2,500 members who attended this excellent conference and supported by dedicated, hardworking volunteer physicians, sonographers, ASE staffers, and invited faculty. Next year’s meeting will be in Baltimore from June 2–6, 2017, and will focus on “Be in the know: investigate, innovate, and incorporate.” The next meeting promises to be even better. I cannot wait!